Hacking4good with Geeklist

November 23, 2013personal journal4 min read

Some days ago I’ve got wonderful opportunity to participate in Hack4good hackathon in Dublin. The event was organized by Geeklist, the social platform for web developers. It was also a part of WebSummit conference in Dublin. The idea? Hack for charities, NGO organizations and help solve real world problems to make the world better.

In a small team, together with N, Maria and Kantham we’ve attempted to build application that help solve one of the problems presented by organizers:

Impact Tracker for graduates of Young People’s Programme

Many charities, like Young Enterprise, work with young people to develop their employability skills.

There is an increasing need to demonstrated long-term impact, years after the young people have left programmes.

The Challenge: How can we use technology to track young people once they leave our programmes, keep in touch with our alumni, re-engage them, and utilise this incredible network to demonstrate impact?

ImpactTracker, the idea

There was not so much time. In just about 7 hours, we’ve build small web application based on Symfony2 that was aimed to solve this problem: getting to know what happens to those young people after they leave Young Enterprise programs. How did we do that?

  • In application backend, some officials will maintain lists of program attendees, grouped by the program name and dates,
  • To learn about their alumni, they can create surveys and questionnaires and email them to the groups
  • Young people, the recipients of those email can fill the surveys, answering the questions about their lives, jobs and progress
  • ImpactTracker app will collect the answers and visualise results
  • Once young people will connect will ImpactTracker, they can also connect LinkedIn accounts so our app can monitor their job status and include their career path in the results.

We’ve got small breakfast, morning coffee and after some introduction we started hacking.

Later during development, Maria joined us. She couldn’t help us with the development, but on the other hand she crafted awesome presentation that helped me do my pitch in the final. Make sure to also check her report from Hack4Good.

Me, pitching the ImpactTracker idea on Hack4good 0.3 in Dublin

— Me, pitching the ImpactTracker idea on Hack4good 0.3 in Dublin

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to complete the whole idea in just 7 hours. We were stuck somewhere between, sending emails and receiving survey results. But the idea was there and many people liked it.

Tech execution

Since N. was most proficient with Symfony2, we’ve decided to use this framework as our base. N. set up the basic app skeleton. She did amazing job, multitasking between building the application, troubleshooting my issues with PHP and helping other people! For me it was the first time programming with Symfony. I’ve already known the basics, so it wasn’t that hard to get started. I’ve created some Twig layouts and templates, while N. was working on the backend models and controllers.

We’ve decided to include Twitter Boostrap for quickly bootstraping our views. On the spot, there were folks from Sendgrid and they helped us quickly to hook up to their service and send emails without any hustle. Source was hosted in git repos provided by Geeklist.

What we’ve used:

  • PHP, MySQL
  • Symfony2, Twig,
  • HTML5, CSS3, Javascript
  • Twitter Bootstrap, jQuery
  • Sendgrid


The event was well organized. Of course, there was maybe too short of time for execution of our ideas, but hey! It was still great experience to be there. You can check out more detailed coverage of Hack4good at the Geeklist Blog.

The venue was amazing:

Hack4good Hackathon at WebSummit, 2013
Hack4good Hackathon at WebSummit, 2013

It was one of old Guinness warehouses, now reinvented as office space. Very nice. And we’ve also got a chance to attend pre- and afterparty. It was great to meet many new, interesting people from around the world.

So, big thanks to N., Maria for working together on the ImpactTracker prototype. Big thanks to Geeklist for having this great Hack4Good event. Big thanks to Copper.io – the sponsors of our afterparty. It was great experience to be there! See you next year!

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